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Okay, so. Tiffany Kent, a Kansas University fan, tweeted a picture of herself wearing a Jayhawks T-shirt and the hashtag “#kuboobs” from her Twitter handle @mommyloveswine. Just another day in the Twitterverse. This was at the end of February, when Kansas overcame a 19-point deficit to defeat Missouri. It wasn’t long before “#kuboobs” went viral. The meme even has its own Twitter handle, @KUBoobs, and the bio reads “We love our #Jayhawks & support our #kubball team by tweeting ourselves in our favorite KU shirts and apparel. We do not promote nudity. #RockChalk #KUboobs.”
Apparently, this has struck a real chord with KU basketball fans, both male and female! This is great; memes are fun!
But (and here is where things stop being fun and start getting real) memes like this make me uncomfortable. This reminds me a lot of 2010′s “bra color status updates” to “raise awareness” for breast cancer, which actually ended up leaving a lot of people very confused, and decidedly not more aware of the risks of breast cancer. Interestingly, Kent also expressed the hope that the hashtag can be used in some way to solicit donations for breast cancer research funding. I understand that the meme in its current incarnation is about nothing more complicated than being a KU fan, but why, oh why can’t women be sports fans without being accompanied by a silent chorus of “LOL BOOBS” (or not so silent, in the case of one Twitter user who posted “I’m no #KU fan, but how can you dislike #kuboobs?”)?
I get that Kent did this as a lark, clearly not anticipating the overwhelming response and without much of an agenda beyond “Go Jayhawks! Here’s a picture of my shirt! Also, I am female!” And anyone participating in the #KUboobs viral phenomenon is perfectly within their rights to do so, and I am maybe being a tiny bit uptight about this whole thing, but I just wish that sports fandom could exist/grow/thrive without giving anybody, anywhere any additional reasons to yell “Show us your tits!” at female fans. That’s all.
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